We set out on our first family road trip in the summer of 2009 with our three little kids: Max (four), Ava (two), and Lia (eleven months). We had no idea what we were doing, but we were determined to have a great time! That first trip sparked a passion for travel. Our first trip was to Colorado, but we’ve since driven the entire length of Route 66, road tripped from Kansas City to New Orleans, gone to the Great Smoky Mountains, road tripped around Oregon in a rental car, and driven from Kansas City to Washington, D.C.

Throughout our many family road trips and thousands of miles logged on our minivan, we learned some very important lessons about traveling with kids and having a fabulous time. Some of those lessons were hard learned and others discovered simply by accident.

Road tripping remains our favorite form of family travel and vacationing. There’s simply nothing like loading up the minivan and hitting the open road for days and weeks at a time. We’re certain that every family can use these tips to make their next family road trip the most memorable and awesome family vacation ever!

  1. Lower your expectations. We all know that kids will be kids and we seem fine with that fact of life when we’re home, but when we travel, we totally forget it. So, before you head out on the road, adjust your expectations. It’s much easier to handle screaming, fighting kids in the car when you expect that it will happen. At the same time, let go of the idea that a road trip should be getting from Point A to Point B as fast as possible. Remember, the journey is just as important (if not more so!) than the destination.
  2. Make a bucket list. Grab a pen and some paper and write all kinds of fun and random things on the list. Our bucket lists usually include things like: ride the merry-go-round at a random roadside park, get ice cream, run through a field, dance party at a rest stop, and so on. The bucket list will be a constant reminder during the trip that you’re supposed to be having fun. And, at the end of the trip, you’ll have written proof that you had fun!
  3. Choose to actively seek out adventure. We often refer to our trusty Roadside America iPhone app and reach out to friends via Twitter and Facebook to get recommendations of awesome places to visit and dine. Also, watch out for roadside signs and take a chance on something that looks really lame. You never know…it could turn out to be loads of fun!
  4. Bring your own fun. Every time we travel, I bring a bag of random goodies. When the kids are getting antsy in the car and there’s nothing to do for hours, we pull out our magic bag of fun. We’ve been known to have water gun fights at rest stops, fly kites on the side of abandoned roads, and blow bubbles in the car. When you bring your own fun, you’re in control.
  5. Take pictures. It’s no secret that we’re professional photographers, so it should come as no surprise that we strongly recommend documenting your trip in pictures. We also think you should take videos and write in a journal or on your blog. Your road trip is going to be full of so many memorable experiences, you’ll want to document them all so you can relive them over and over again!

Photos by The Solars

Josh and Jenny Solar created The Happy Family Movement to encourage family togetherness and memorable family experiences through simple ideas for happy family living. To learn more about The Happy Family Movement, visit their WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK or TWITTER.